NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently talked about the possibility of changing the format of the playoffs in the future, with the potential of seeding the top eight teams in each conference 1-16 by record.
That format could result in two teams from the same conference playing in the NBA Finals.
The goal in changing the playoff format is to ensure the two best teams meet for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The Eastern Conference’s lack of depth in recent seasons has generated more debate than usual when it comes to tweaking the postseason.
Not everyone is on board with making radical changes to the playoffs, though, and that includes the league’s best player — Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James.
James’ reasoning was that the league has had “dominant conferences throughout time.”
He’s exactly right.
These things go in cycles. The West is the better conference right now, but it hasn’t always been that way. In the 1980s, the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers and a very underrated Milwaukee Bucks team waged epic battles to reach the NBA Finals from the East. Waiting for them from the West eight of 10 years in the 1980s was the Los Angeles Lakers, who almost always had a very easy road to the Finals.
That switched in the 1990s, when the West was the more competitive conference and the Chicago Bulls had the easier road to the Finals from the East.
The point is these imbalances happen all the time, and it might not be long before the East is the superior conference. That’s why there’s no reason to overreact to the West’s current dominance and make huge changes to the playoff format as a result.